King Charles III is a Shakespearean epic for the modern age

king charles iii windsors mike bartlett bbc two shakespeare blank verse tim pigott smith hd

The central conceit of King Charles III is to posit a world in which Shakespeare survived to satirise a modern monarch in much the same way he did with Richard III or Henry V. Bartlett’s King Charles III is firmly rooted within the Shakespearean tradition, drawing on familiar aspects of the Bard’s work – Diana appears as a ghostly spectre akin to Hamlet’s father, while Kate Middleton fills the role of Lady Macbeth.

But this goes beyond simply remixing familiar archetypes and applying a modern veneer to Shakespeare’s existing work. King Charles III mimics the style of Shakespearean language, written in blank verse; such use of iambic pentameter, rarely seen on television, allows a grandeur of scale that positions the play firmly within a Shakespearean style, but allows it to seek out its own innovations and find a fresh outlook. In turn, then, King Charles III isn’t a ‘greatest hits’ compilation that aims to imitate Shakespeare, but rather a play that seeks to stand among his work.

A piece of King Charles III, the TV adaptation of Mike Bartlett’s award-winning play. I really enjoyed it!

In response to the obvious: no, when I wrote this I had not seen or read very much Shakespeare. Yes, I’m aware it shows. No, I haven’t read or seen a great deal more since, but enough to find the above faintly, albeit endearingly, embarrassing. Yes, I intend to read and watch more Shakespeare.

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Ten Years of the Tenth Doctor: The Infinite Quest (Part 7)

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The fleshy bipeds are stupid.

I am starting to feel like a stupid, fleshy biped doing these.

Quite apart from the fact that I’m not convinced anyone is reading them and it’s a little bit of a waste of my time, The Infinite Quest was never meant to be put under this much scrutiny. It’s a little bit of strange ephemera to entertain a group of eight-year-olds, as a bonus part of what was essentially Who Peter. No one was ever meant to write 500 words about every three-minute chunk, and it’s doing a disservice to The Infinite Quest – and indeed anyone who worked on it – to expect it to stand up to that.

Which is essentially my way of saying sorry to Alan Barnes and Gary Russell for all the critique I’m lobbing their way while trying to draw blood from a stone write hundreds of words about The Infinite Quest every week. I like to think they’d react with mild bemusement rather than being particularly offended or anything like that.

But, since Eurovision has delayed 42 for a week that means we don’t have any celebratory Tenth Doctor content without The Infinite Quest. It occurs to me only now that what I should have done was written about the omnibus edition for yesterday’s missing 42 slot, since part of the reason I decided to cover this on a weekly basis was because I couldn’t figure out where to place a full review of the omnibus edition. Oh well. You live and learn. (Or not, as the case may be – I’m probably going to review the omnibus edition on its own anyway, and I suspect there’s a roughly fifty-fifty chance that I’ll go on to do this with Dreamland as well. My apologies in advance to Phil Ford, but at least I’ve said nice things about Into the Dalek before anyway.)

So, back to The Infinite Quest, where I’ve returned to my old trick of writing nearly four hundred words of unrelated nonsense before actually getting down to talking about the little minisode.

I confess, I was a bit disappointed with this one. Previous episodes had some nice little commentary and thematic concerns about moral issues – piracy, capitalism, war profiteering, that sort of thing. It might have been nice, then, had the big bug creatures not been revealed to be the villains; if it were actually the humans who were forcing them to leave their world, rather than vice versa. It could have added another layer of depth to what’s proving to be a relatively flat (haha) story – with that twist in the tale, there would have been a little bit more meat to the story. Given the nature of the story and constraints placed upon it by the format, The Infinite Quest needs to be a bit more about interesting dialogue, concepts and conversations than about big action set pieces. Sometimes it manages that, and sometimes it struggles to be ‘for kids’, under the assumption that means explosions and action sequences. It’s an imperfect marriage.

But for all that it is an imperfect marriage, and for all that I do criticise The Infinite Quest, that is because I am doing so from a boring critical perspective as (arguably) an adult. And at the end of the day, this isn’t for me now, and it never was. I shouldn’t be too harsh on it for not being something it was never supposed to be.

Related:

Ten Years of the Tenth Doctor Reviews

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